Taylor Swift talks multi-hyphenate career at Toronto Film Festival – Deadline


Taylor Swift fever hit the Toronto Film Festival on Friday night as the singer-songwriter star passed through with actress Sadie Sink to present her 10-minute work All Too Well: The Short Film, followed by an hour-long In Conversation event with festival CEO Cameron Bailey.

Fans slept overnight on the pavement outside the TIFF Lightbox Theatre in the hope of getting a place via standby, while bars and eateries along the festival’s King Street hub, blasted out the Taylor Swift classic – the 2012 track ‘All Too Well’ – which inspired the short.


For Swift, the event afforded her an opportunity to give the short work a public screening in its original 35mm format.

“It’s really meaningful to get to present the short film on 35mm because that was how it was originally shot,” Swift said ahead of the screening.

Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) and Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner) co-star as a younger woman and a slightly older man in an up-and-down relationship that eventually fails but leaves an indelible mark on both and lingering regrets.

Having launched online last November, All Too Well played at select theatres in the U.S. and screened at Tribeca in June and there is now talk of the short being a potential awards season contender.

Swift told Bailey that it was no surprise that she had ended up writing and directing a short film, explaining that there had always been a visual element in the way in which she conceived songs and presented them to the public.

“When I would write a song, I would immediately start thinking of how I want to present this on stage. If I made a music video for this, what would it look like?.” she said.

“And then, when I would create an album, halfway through, I would start conceptualising what does this album look like? What are the colours we’re dealing with here? What are the themes? aesthetics? What do I want this to symbolise? Because from a very early point in my career, I wanted to establish each album as its own era of sorts.”

She revealed a host of filmmakers who had influenced and inspired her work over the course of her 20-year career.

“It has fluctuated over time. I’ve always loved certain films during certain phases I was in musically. Like when I made the album ‘1989’, I watched a lot of John Hughes movies, like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club over and over,” she recounted.

“When the pandemic hit, I watched a lot of Guillermo Del Toro, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth. My whole world turned into folktales, forests and mythical creatures.  was just so dazzled by those films and I’d always obviously like The Shape Of Water, it’s one of my favourite films ever.”

She also cited more recent titles such as Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story and Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir and The Souvenir Part II, which she saw after completing All Too Well.

“I absolutely love the fact it’s’ about this young woman who experiences this extreme heartbreak and despair and then makes something like that about it,” she said of The Souvenir Part II, adding she had seen it after All Too Well was finished.

Swift said it had been a “baby steps process” to set the short film project in motion.

“It wasn’t like I woke up one day and was like, you know what, I want to direct,” she said. “I’ve been on the set of 60 plus music videos and I’ve learned a lot from that process because I’ve always got my eyes and ears open. I am always looking at shots and thinking, ‘I like that one, but I don’t like that one. Why and why not?”

Securing Sink and O’Brien for the lead roles had been a key step forward in the project, Swift revealed.

“It was a very instinctual decision based on having watched their performances. If I had to assign analytical thought to it, I would say I had never seen either one of them play roles like this before. But I’ve seen them just ace anything that was put in front of them,” explained Swift.

“I thought I wonder if Sadie Sink wants to play a romantic lead. I know I haven’t seen it yet. I think she’s at that perfect point in her career where she could,” she continued.

“If she would have said ‘no’, I just don’t know if I would have made the film honestly. Yeah, it’s true. I really wanted both to say yes. I know we have to compromise in life, but I didn’t have a backup plan and I didn’t want to compromise.”

Swift, who is currently gearing up for the launch on October 21 of her 10th studio album “Midnights’, acknowledged that a natural progression would be to now make a feature film.

“I’d love to keep taking baby steps forward. And I think that I’m at a place now where the next baby step is not a baby step, it would be committing to making a film and I would love for the right opportunity to arise because I absolutely adore telling stories this way,” she said.



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